A few months ago a certain weekly music magazine were looking for new writers. I was unsure about whether to send anything in but in the end I decided there was nothing to lose and went for it. They were asking for a gig review of 150 words. I reviewed a Converge gig that was back in November of last year sometime. Of course they never got back to me (This can be for one reason and one reason alone - it was only 149 words and they are sticklers for 100% word count accuracy. I mean, what else could it have been because obviously the writing is of exceptionally high quality and the review is flawlessly brilliant…er…) so instead of it just festering on my computer, I have decided to let it go free and release it onto the internet. Fly my pretty…
The problem for bands supporting Converge is just that – they’re supporting Converge, the best hardcore band on the planet. (This is an un-debatable fact by the way, if anyone was thinking of trying.) A Storm Of Light therefore seem pretty flaccid and boring given what’s to come. Touche Amore fortunately are rather better, with an impressively impassioned following down the front, and a fair few head nodders behind. However, it’s still just foreplay before Converge come out and well, totally slay. There’s no grand entrance, they just launch into opener Concubine, which well, totally slays. From then on it’s Converge at their face-melting best, tearing through tracks old and new - reminding everyone that they’ve been at this 20+ years yet continue to be at the top of their game. There’s no dull moments, no lulls, it’s wall-to-wall amazing and they well, totally slay. Did I mention that already?
After the ensuing twitter shitstorm (it wasn’t a shitstorm) that befell after I twatted about BTBAM not being very good, “try hard nonsense”, I said, to be exact, I decided to give ‘Colours’ a listen in an attempt to see whether I could change my mind over this band that so many people splurge so much semen (and its feminine equivalent…eggs? ovum? whatever) over. The main issue I have with this band when listening to them on previous occasions and then seeing them live is that they segue from one section to another with virtually no connective elements. One moment it’s death metal, the next it’s a pirate jig, or a Hammond organ solo, or a cockney knees up, or Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, or a banana. It all just seems like randomness for randomness sake and is a truly annoying and grating thing to have to listen to.
I have now listened to this record in its entirety (A feat that I think deserves some kind of reward personally) and the result is as follows – I tried, but my mind is not changed and I still think this band is balls. Fuck all of you.
I believe this post constitutes an entire month of writing something every day. I’m quite shocked that I managed to force myself through it and see it through this far. There is, however, still one piece that was one of the major ideas I had in the first place that I have not yet written.
I don’t intend to write that particular piece right now, it’s too late and I’m too tired. It might come as soon as tomorrow, but it might take me a week or so to get around to it, but I do intend to write it at some point soon that’s for sure.
I am currently “back home” where I fully intend to relax and rest for us much of the time as possible. Writing may constitute part of this, it may not…let’s see.
We all have them. Those albums in our music collection that we consider to have gone largely unrecognised and unappreciated by both other music lovers and the press.
Of course, we occasionally come across those who share our feelings for the band/album in question, at which point outpourings of mutual “Isn’t this album so great why don’t other people recognise it aren’t they all silly billies aren’t we brilliant though because we love it and secretly actually we’re kinda glad that other people don’t like it because it makes us feel special that we’re part of the select group of people that do.”
Off the top of my head I can think of a number of such records that exist within my collection (on both physical and non-physical formats). I am listening to one now in fact. And you know what, much as I wished other people were attached to this record in the same way I am, I don’t want to say what it is, for the perverse reasons expressed above. I feel somewhat privileged to belong to a select few who have a deep affection for this record. There’s a special attachment there that I feel, ridiculously, would be somehow altered and lessened should I happen to share it with other people.
It’s not every record I feel this way about. Some I will harp on about til the cows come home because they’re so brilliant. But others…others just remain our own personal little escapes that we like to keep to ourselves.
Us city dwellers live in high pressure, high stress, intense, testing and exhausting environments.
The importance of getting away from all of this is really absolutely central to our existence, particularly for those who live surrounded by the intensity of a city. I have not taken a proper break since…well, probably since Christmas. I feel it. I can feel it in my bones; through every fibre of my being. It screams out for me to take it out of this hyper-unnatural environment of the big city and away to the open fields, fresh air and quiet that it innately recognises as the environment for a mammal.
This is why I cannot wait to escape London for a week. Don’t get me wrong, living here is exhilarating and I wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world right now, but I am of the firm belief that one needs to escape every few months to prevent the city from sapping every last ounce of energy. London is a place that never really gives one the chance to completely unwind and let oneself fully relax. A small part is always ticking over, always aware of the noisy, smelly and busy surroundings.
Just so long as ones bucolic escape plans don’t result in a Withnalian catastrophe, then such things are good for re-energizing the spirit and “centring” ourselves. Maybe some people don’t need or desire this escape in order to live in this, or any other city. Some do, myself included. In order to live here, I have to get out and take a break from the place lest it wear me down to a fine black dust, to end up on the tissue of some weary tube commuter.
On account of lacking something about which to write, I decided to do 3 random article generations on wikipedia and base some sort of small fiction upon them. Here is what Jimmy sodding Wales gave me:
Tsez people (aka Dido/Didoi) - indiginous people of the north caucuses. They have an unwritten language.
Bass trumpet - a low trumpet
Tom Parlon - former Irish Progressive Democrats Politician. Currently a lobbyist for the construction industry federation of Ireland.
Tom stared lovingly at the beautiful brass instrument. The “big brass beast” he liked to call it. Though he’d once been a prominent politician and currently held a high position as a lobbyist for the construction industry federation of Ireland, the fact that he was also a highly accomplished bass trumpeter was knowledge reserved only to a very select few.
He puckered his face into his finest embouchure and let fly. The beast sang in his embrace, letting out a sound that was by his own admission at times, slightly foghorn like, but for the most part the sound swirled around like rich treacle.
He always began the day with between fifteen and thirty minutes on the bass trumpet. He felt that it grounded him in a way that allowed him to take on any challenge the day might throw at him in his role at the construction industry federation. Those smooth tones had a way of soothing the soul and leaving one with a pleasant energy that lasted the day.
Half way across the world, one man said to another, (but obviously not in English, I’m translating freely as I go), “Hey, that was really interesting. I’d like to remember that fact for future reference.” The other man replied, “Yeah, you always seem to forget this, but we’re the Tsez people. We have an unwritten language.” “Shit…” muttered the first man, and continued, “Yeah, you’re right, I do forget these things. Although that’s somewhat understandable if you have a really inconvenient system of language whereby you can’t write anything down to preserve ideas and facts and the like. It’s a real ballache. Ho hum.”
Tom had no idea that these people existed. He put down his bass trumpet, and made his way to the office. It was going to be another good day. He just knew.
In some respects, this will reflect a similar feeling to my writing yesterday about the changing of the seasons. The movement from one season to another is nature’s way of ending one thing whilst beginning something else. Our lives are full of such endings and new beginnings. Endings can be deeply sad occasions yet at the same time, there are often new things to look forward to at the same time.
It’s natural to have a sense of sadness when something comes to and end coupled with a feeling that things may never quite be the same afterwards, even if we have new and exciting experiences to look forward to.
The events through which I feel give the best examples of these types of “endings” in my life are when the forming of a household with a group of friends reaches its end stage. These situations have always had an effect on me as the sense of things “never being the same” is, I feel, most profound given the bonds one can form with people one lives with. The severing of these bonds and moving away from these people after spending so long together can be deeply upsetting.
Aside from the very rare drink or email, I have largely fallen out of contact with the friends I lived with at university, yet at the time I wept like a baby when we moved out as I had become so close to them. We had shared many fantastic times together and it was inevitable that these would not be repeated, at least not with the same frequency as before. A few years later, I found myself crying at a bus stop after moving out of my first flat in London that I’d shared with friends to whom I had become very close. I think part of the reason for these tears is the feeling that those relationships may never quite be the same again - at the fundamental level it’s clear that if you’re not living with someone you won’t be talking to them on a daily basis. At a deeper level, simply inhabiting the same space gives you an insight into someone that may not be afforded to you otherwise.
I don’t quite know where to take this next - it feels like I’ve reached an ending but there is maybe more to be said…Perhaps it’s worth adding that yes, the relationships are different and one may see less of some people and fall out of touch with others, but this will never take away the good times that were had in those periods of living together. I hold fond memories of all (well, most of!) the places and people I’ve lived with, and though I may not see them all or talk to them all as much as I’d like to nowadays, we still shared some special moments. Moments that have played a part in shaping the people we were then and the people we have since become.
To anyone I care for but don’t see or talk to enough - I still love you and let’s hang out soon yes?